US coal exports rose by 38pc on the year in June, marking the 20th straight month of gains for US producers shipping abroad.
International coal shipments from the US totaled 10.1mn short tons (9.16mn metric tonnes) in the month, up from 7.3mn st in June 2017.
That topped May’s 9.65mn st in exports, but was down from a five-year high reached in April.
Thermal coal exports grew by more than metallurgical coal as demand from the fast-growing Asian market focused on coal for power generation. Overall thermal exports rose by 53pc to 4.66mn st on the year, while coking coal exports rose by 28pc to 5.48mn st.
Shipments to Asia leapt up by 74pc on the year to 4.5mn st, making up 45pc of US coal exports in the month. Of that, 2.36mn st was thermal coal, more than twice last June’s 1.03mn st. Metallurgical shipments to the continent rose by 37pc to 2.14mn st.
Exporters to India led gains in shipments to Asia, with exports to the country nearly tripling to 1.86mn st from 637,251st.
US exporters report that Indian demand for Northern Appalachian coals in particular remains strong. Producer Consol Energy sent 69pc of its international shipments to India in the first half of the year.
And demand is set to continue growing on the back of robust infrastructure development, although higher US prices and the India’s Supreme Court’s decision to exempt cement makers from the petroleum coke ban could give some importers pause.
Shipments to China more than doubled, to 491,333st from 239,501st. Most of those were metallurgical although Consol also reported sealing deals to ship to new customers in China last quarter, so exports could continue to increase through the rest of the year.
Shipments to Japan rose by 21pc to 858,462st, and shipments to Korea rose by 6pc to 908,368st.
In addition, US exports to Europe were higher for a third consecutive month in June. US coal sent to the continent rose by 20pc to 2.98mn st on the year, making up just under 30pc of total US exports in the month.
Exports to Germany rose by 35pc on the year to 600,795st, and exports to the Netherlands more than tripled to 817,947st from 279,288st.
Producers are also eyeing growing coking coal demand from eastern European countries like Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Of those countries, only shipments to Ukraine increased in June, rising by 13pc to total 286,274st in the month. Exports to Poland fell by 62pc to 117,479st.
Hungary is a newer market with no recent record of taking coal from the US. And the Czech Republic took just one shipment in 2017, totaling less than 20,000st.
Exports to Africa and South America also increased by 50pc and 12pc, respectively, to 708,839st and 803,970st.
The increase in exports came despite rail delays that caused some shipments in May and June to be diverted to the third quarter, so exports could climb even higher in the coming months.
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- On August 3, 2018